Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's in Your Hand?

In October of 2004, I went on a hike to the top of Table Rock. Table Rock is located in Pickens County in South Carolina and is one of the most popular parks in the state. The hike to the summit is rated moderate to strenuous, but I would say it is more strenuous than moderate. However, the view from the top is incredible, and well worth the climb.

At dawn, I arrived at the park before anyone else, and began my ascent to the top. The reason for my hike was a quest. I had renewed God’s call on my life to be in the ministry after many years of running away from Him. For some reason, I felt that God was going to reveal something wonderful to me, if I climbed to the top of the mountain, read my Bible, and prayed.

After a long, tough hike, I made it to the top. I caught my breath, ate a granola bar, drank some water, and found my Bible in my backpack. I thumbed through it a bit and landed on a passage that I knew in my heart was what God wanted me to see. I read the following words. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV)

I thought, “What? I have no trials in my life. I have a great job, a wonderful wife, a precious son and baby girl on the way. What trials?” I left the mountain angry at God. I felt like I had wasted my time climbing the mountain and reading those words. I did not believe that message was for me at all. I believed I had just picked that passage at random, and that it was nothing more than random words.

Within two weeks, my world came crashing down. I was in the middle of a trial in my life that I never saw coming. I went back to those words in 1 Peter, like a kid headed for the cookie jar. I understood what God was telling me, but only in hindsight.

In 1883, Dr. William Howey went to check on crews who were building the Canadian Pacific Railway. While there, he found some interesting copper-colored rocks and pocketed them. Upon returning home, he sent them to the director of the Geological Survey of Canada for evaluation. The stones were deemed worthless, and Howey threw them away.

A contractor picked them up, and a year later decided to check out the site where they were found. It turned out those "rocks" were copper, and the contractor had discovered one of the world's largest copper deposits, which produced millions of dollars of ore. Later, it was also discovered that the ore contained high levels of highly sought-after nickel. The deposit was named the International Nickel Company of Canada, and went on to become the second-largest producer of nickel worldwide. In 2006, the company was bought for $17 billion.

Sometimes we don’t recognize God’s providence in our lives. Words from the Bible that we think do not apply to us, may be the very words from God we need later. Stones that we think are worthless, may indeed be worth a fortune. God sends His blessings to us in many ways. It is not our job to judge them to be right for us or not. God knows more of what we need than we do. He also knows when we will encounter those needs.

When David went out to check on his brothers during the battle, he did not take a weapon. He only had a sling. I’m sure that many times he thought the sling to just be something used to protect his sheep or to have fun with. He never knew that it would one day bring down a giant in the name of God.

Read the Bible. Seek God. Pray for understanding. You are blessed. Never take anything from God for granted.

Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?" Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied. The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."
“He [Aaron] will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it." (Exodus 4:1-5, 16-17 NIV)


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